All 28 European commissioners are white and only three of the 751 Members of the European Parliament are black – compared to the 22 there would be if the institution represented Europe’s black population. For anti-racism campaigners, this means the EU has a blind spot on fighting injustice facing people of colour.
Many people predict Brexit will make the problem worse. “One of the big concerns is that as soon as you lose the UK, you lose a lot of members engaged with anti-discrimination and Islamophobia,” says Alfiaz Vaiya , who works on anti-racism in the parliament. The same says also Syed Kamall , a British Conservative MEP of Indo-Guyanese origin and the first minority ethnic leader of a European parliament political group.
It is impossible to say how many EU politicians and staff come from a black and minority ethnic background, because the statistics do not exist. Moreover, many countries oppose collecting data on ethnicity or race, also a spokesman for the European commission said: “Collecting quantitative data about the ethnic origin of staff is a very sensitive matter, and opinions as to whether collecting such data is appropriate vary considerably across the EU.